tv Conservatism Debate at University of Notre Dame CSPAN October 10, 2019 4:26pm-4:51pm EDT
[applause] . >> it's my privilege to introduce our guest today. we have and energize debate my order of introduction has no meaning so no tweets so the opinion editor of the new york post and a contributing editor of the herald and has served as a columnist and editor with the wall street journal opinion pages and in london as a senior writer and commentary magazine talking about his conversion to roman catholicism was published in is our privilege to welcome him to notre dame. next std writer for national review and senior editor and
senior contributor to type magazine the greatest american divorce will be published later this year mister french is a graduate of harvard law school for civil rights and education the veteran of operation iraqi freedom serving a senior counsel and for the alliance defending freedom. finally doctor kessler is a distinct professor of government at claremont mckenna college. a noted scholar of american constitutionalism and intellectualon history doctor kessler is the author of i am the change. in the editor of the federalist papers and this addition that he designs his constitutional studies class that i am involved.
each gentleman will speak approximately ten minutes followed by a discussion and q&a with the audience mister french will speak first. please join me to welcome our panelist into our conversation what is conservativism in the age of trump. [applause] >> thank you to notre dame for hosting this is the second time i debated professor kessler in 2016 at a wonderful event you are fantastic host my only regret is i cannot go to the game on saturdaygo to see what football is like outside if it is 80 percent is good or 90 percent? [laughter] i thought i would go ahead and lose the room right off. [laughter] thank you for hosting me this
is a first for me leg three of my calvinist tour of catholic colleges i was at georgetown last week where i was told and admonished clearly the catholic university of america now i realize there is some dissidence on that point i am here today and i will be at benedict in a couple weeks this is a treat for me. what is conservativism in the age of trump is the question. i would also like to answer. i'm not quite sure what it is. there are competing and conflicting strains in the age of trump i will take it as an omen to open thisis program we read from federalist ten which is my favorite federalist paper even when i realized i have no life if i have a favorite federalist paper. [laughter] so let me back up so with this
strand of conservativism i have long that still exist in the age of trump. i define it to quotes from jefferson and adams one is extremely famous one is more famous than the other one has the words from the declaration of independence we are endowed with and enable rights with life liberty and the pursuit of happiness to explain governments are instituted among men to secure these liberties the principal purpose of government. not the only purpose by any stretch but the principal purpose to secure these liberties. now after the constitution was drafted and ratified, john adam says in a letter - - letter to the massachusetts militia it was made for a
moral and religious people that is wholly inadequate and that's a famous quote but to describe with the constitutional s structure that is too weak with that level of liberty in the culture is so great it is all exercised in a way that america is theex unfit habitation. so you have two reciprocal responsibilities that were the foundation of thisde republic. duty of the government of the united states of america to defend and protect the liberty of its citizens. to use the word oxygen to define the role ofsc liberty. that is how essential it is. at the same time it won't work unless there was a reciprocal
commitment to exercise that liberty. we are all fallen people and will not be perfect. the founding fathers knew that so they built in checks and balances running vertically and horizontally within the federal system so no one set of bad people could wreck the place with internal resilience that was an incredibly wise way to build the country in ways that echo today because fast-forward from 1791 through 2019. where do we find ourselves facing right now with united states of america? a lot say a horrible left others say wait we face a horrible right. i have my own views of the merits of these conflicts and will explain them as we go but we face a tremendously polarized country.
with negative polarization it means i have less affection for my side than hatred for the other in obama we cannot say begins with trumpet did not even close it's been arcing for a long time if you pull the average republicanr what was their opinion of the democrat 82 percent they ayayngly or somewhat this like a democrat the average democrat talk about republicans they were far more tolerant 78 percent hated the blerage republican. [laughter] so we have an incredibly divided country with an enormous amount of animosity and what i look at it is a time for the country to rediscover the founders. number one we like to exaggerate their uniformity we
say they are all landholding whitee men like tweedledee and tweedledum the same thing now we are so much more diverse but if you run down the eastern seaboard in 1791, you will see a puritan massachusetts, rhode island founded from people fleeing from puritanism, quaker pennsylvani pennsylvania, catholic maryland, england virginia and criminal georgia. [laughter] and some things haven't changed. [applause] so what do you have our the combats of the wars of religion that tore apart europe not too long before. how do you do that? you do that by giving people
the liberty to act according to their deepest beliefs when you removeef the threat from the table then we can begin to fill the republic together. that some of the foundational wisdom of the first amendment. and by giving them more autonomy with the ability to self govern. what i would say what is a project of the conservative movement now? one is to diffuse negative polarization and the forces that tear the nation to shreds. you do that by reconnecting with wisdom of the founders to grant the rights you would like yourself and defend those rights and with differing communities in the united states was strongly different views of the government so you let them govern themselves you
also try to ameliorate the tragedy and consequences of the departures in this country and the braces we have made a big government and coercion that has hurt so many lives. what that looks like in policy i would agree we are out on a number of policy changes i would like to see. like the tax cuts were heavily weighted to corporation i'm open about family leave so we can start to repair the damage the government has done. in that circumstance there's a lot to talk about. what i do not think we should do is abandon the concept of reciprocal duties that people exercise liberty this puts a special burden.
it really does. i have long conservative - - had a conservative i don't think it can do everything for everybody everywhere or that it canix be do more harm than good it's a special burden on me to walk my talk and serve the least to be part of an energetic community remaking the culture from the ground up and if we change that and go top-down not only fail but divide the country. [applause] >> i want to start by thinking notre dame for over one - - organizing this and for coming to this important debate i heard about private planes landing i saw people selling tickets and i was informed that was for the football game.
[laughter] this is the first time at notre dame which is special because the priest to presided over sacraments for the church there was another present who was a member of the holy cross congregation so it special to finally be here at our lady zone university. i will start to save broadly a debate of social conservatives and i have the utmost respect for the men and women who defend our liberties in the courtroom and those who defend the nation by wearing a uniformm abroad. and you check off both of those boxes. i thank you before the debate. i meant it and thank you again for both ofth those. now in the notorious essay i
noticed that david french hass a considerable along part of his career to defend those that have been pushed out of the public square and i meant that but we have profound disagreements i have a cohort of mainly young conservatives who have desired to renegotiate some elements that the immigrants love that i recall often of the novel he imagines a france for the future of france and the protagonist is a professor and as things begin to go south to say i will go to israel he says i don't have an israel. it is france.
this is true. i cannot return to the ayatollah but i care about the country. and i have the anxious love of a father for my son or now my children. also for my daughter. [laughter] [applause] but if i talk about the world they will inherit it is slightly aspirational immigrant but nevertheless i feel anxiety and anxious about the culture and the ideological issues with these more exotic ideas five years ago people would have thought were non- sensible. and the broader breakdown lengthy opioid crisis that young men stay home and play video games.
so that this leads to a strategic disagreementsa with my sense of how deep the crisis goes so when i see certain events when children are interacting i don't see that as the blessings of liberties that our founders had in mind but that they carefully distinguish from liberty and that is a section how deep the crisis goes also disagreements of how to move forward or that consensus the conservative has failed. to reasons mainly the battleground hasft shifted and conservativism has not kept up in for two generations both left and right they have pursued t deregulation economically and the result is
people are vulnerable i cited the crisis that we feel and that trumpet is a symptom of those especially leading to the rise of the rogue corporation of private actors the subject of which they are defended because they are not from the state. they are private actors and that they don't ever reach the courtroom it happens within a matter of hours if somebody nesays something and a private actor is for what they said if mario lopez has to kiss the ring that may be a three -year-old should not transition at that age were then to apologize to focus on
the family just because he participated to bring the bible to school day then something is wrong the litigation answer does not meet that challenge. and part because it has a public-private distinction something social media companies now act that's where free speech happens or not a religious liberty happens or not and that distinction and we also have too much respect for a market economy itself and that leads to the second critique and it's mainly a senseless procedural posture. so now the left has the substance of vision of the highest good and they oppose it at every level on campus in the corporation, in the
workplace, in the law, in politics and yes conservatives meet them and say for example on campus specifically just give me the right to talk to want to tell you how good procedures are but now you see the substance we don't offer a vision that now some say that's it we inherited from the founders they just want to create neutral rules. that's fine but i don't think that that's the case the preamble says it is to seek justice aim to secure the general welfare of the common good. is not a neutral document it doesn't authorize license because our constitution was not intended to justify those
rights and that was held until relatively recently so we need a moral vision that meets people where they are with the challenges we have today. and to insist on autonomy if we treat things that are licensed as allowed under morally neutral regime. that is poison to a constitutional order premised on the inalienable work of dignity and the creature made in the image of god. if we think it has a neutral fundament you chip away at that and this is my last point and now they are expressed not just united states but across the world for the common good as conservative nationalist
movements around the world express that desire. we have to resist future molar probes - - mueller probes. i don't have all the answers to these problems and where you are presenting a new vision of conservativism you will be met with a vision that is well-established because it works for a long time and does some good but nevertheless we have to go back to the idea to promote a non- neutral vision including at the level of the state and the state should not be neutral so that means trying to redirect barriers that were destroyed over the past two generations and for whatever the disagreements i'm sure david would agree the most fundamental of all is
that man's destiny is in the hands of the creator. thankk you very much. [applause] >> it's a great pleasure to be here tond see my old friends and many other old and new friends here today. i started my fifth year yesterday in st. louis where my band drive her taking me asked me where i was going i said i was going to notre dame he said they have a lot of teens. i said yes they are very famous for their teams my driver said is that ivy
league? i said no it's catholic actually. [laughter] [applause] so i guess i'll tell a joke about an irishman but it's thee joke that ronald reagan told so it's okay. [laughter] the irishman finds himself in a bar and suddenly a fight breaks out a tv fight of people breaking chairs overheads and the irishman asks the bartender is this a private fight or can anyone join in? [laughter] so i feel like i am in the middle of a privateri fight that is going on but in the spirit i will join in. [laughter]
i want to start by saying something about trump since it is about conservativism in the age of donald trump. there has never been a trumpent like donald for good or ill. but the situation conservatives find themselves .n is not so unprecedented in many ways the situation resembles t that of the 19 fifties when bill buckley was astounding national review in the conservative modeew movement we have forgotten that one of the major crusades and its origins from 1955 over the next half decade was a concentrated attack on dwight eisenhower the new
republicanism that drove his administration as president. bill buckley attacked what they called the age of modulation meaning the age of moderation and then to accept the new deal and as a nonemergent garden-variety but they were worried there was no sense of crisis on the standard republican right and there was substance of the faith of the country and the world morally and politically was intimately involved in what would happen in the next couple of yearsas. so when the